David J. Fleming, OFM
1916 – 2005
Fr. David J. Fleming, OFM, was born March 10, 1916, in Brookline, Mass. He graduated in 1937 from St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., and was received into the Province’s novitiate on Aug. 12, 1937. On Aug. 13, 1938, Fr. David pronounced first vows.
He began his philosophical studies at St. Stephen Friary in Croghan, N.Y., and at St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J. He then went to Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., where he pursued his theological studies. He professed solemn vows Sept. 17, 1941. Fr. David was ordained a priest May 29, 1943, in the crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Fr. David’s first assignment was to St. Francis Friary in Brookline, the place of his birth and early youth. For the next 60 years, New England became his home and place of ministry. In the eyes of many, Fr. David was the patriarch of the New England friars, and a man who was admired, respected and loved by friars and laity alike. From 1944 to 1947, he served as an assistant in Brookline. He was then assigned to St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, where he served as the vicar of the community and the procurator of the Shrine from 1947 to 1955.
In 1955, Fr. David moved to St. Francis Chapel in Providence, R.I., and served for one year, until he was appointed to be the guardian of Our Lady’s Chapel in New Bedford, Mass. He served there from 1956 to 1967, when he was elected a definitor of Holy Name Province. He served on the Provincial Council for six years, while ministering at St. Anthony Shrine.
In 1973, he and a handful of friars undertook a new ministry in the Prudential Center in Boston. Fr. David assumed the leadership of the new ministry and was appointed director of the chapel in the Prudential Center. In 1983, the Province decided to withdraw from the ministry there, and Fr. David retired to St. Anthony Residence in Boston. He served as curator of the “Quam Bonum” house at Falmouth and spent many hours and much effort directing a successful fund-raising campaign for the Province to build an infirmary in Ringwood, N.J.
Fr. David had a love for the aging friars of Holy Name Province. He was asked to be the chairman of the Standing Committee for the Sick, Aged and Retired friars. In 1974, Fr. David and Fr. James McKee, OFM, started looking for an existing structure suitable to serve as a friary for retired friars. In fall of that year, Fr. David felt they had found the ideal building in St. Petersburg, Fla. Holy Name Province took possession of the Bond Hotel-turned-friary on May 1, 1974, and the first friars moved in May 19. The present-day policies of Holy Name Province regarding the sick, the aged and the retired are the fruits of the seeds planted by Fr. David.
Fr. David loved being a friar. He was a gentleman and blessed with many gifts and talents. Lay people whom he served in various cities of New England were always impressed by his human touch and his gentle manner. He died May 10, 2005 at the age of 89 in Ringwood, N.J. He was a professed friar for 66 years and a priest for 61.